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Preparing for the Transition to DevOps

Automating software testing and deployment has immense benefits.

By adopting continuous integration, delivery and deployment, your business can save time, money, and resources. Migrating to the cloud is not easy, particularly if you have not used cloud services before. And aligning your teams to accept a new approach that's probably significantly different than the status quo can be challenging at first.

But in the long-term, adopting DevOps and CI/CD will position your company to use more effectively its resources, integrate new talent into development workflows, and provide a reliable infrastructure that supports both development and operational goals.

Here we'll break down the preparations you need to make to start the DevOps transition. We'll give an overview of the value of DevOps, continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment (CI/CD), as well as useful third-party automation tools.

Behavioural Preparations: Developing the Right Mindset

While technical skills are essential, soft skills can make or break a project. To successfully transition your development methodology to the cloud, you need to consider crucial behavioural preparations.

1. Shattering Silos and Promoting Communication and Collaboration

Communication is incredibly important between members of high-performance teams, project managers, and executives. Successful projects do not exist in a vacuum, and even lone entrepreneurs rely on third-party suppliers and clients for resources and feedback.

Ensure your development, information technology, human resources, legal, engineering, design, and other teams all communicate well together. The DevOps approach aims to overcome the silo mentality that so many companies use. DevOps is about merging development and operations to create a unified ecosystem with common goals and objectives.

2. Promote DevOps Culture

The company's culture needs to become more supportive of cloud engineering and DevOps. Key to DevOps culture is collaboration and communication between teams.

Host meetings and adopt Agile development practices, so everyone knows their part and their teammates' roles. Use Lean project management like Kanban to track progress.

3. Build Discipline and Accountability in your Teams

Foster a sense of responsibility and discipline. Use spike programming and test-driven development to jumpstart a cultural shift for employees towards less technical debt and more responsibility for their coding practices. Use unit tests and make sure your employees are not committing broken, uncommented code.

Focus on fulfilling specific customer metrics. If a customer needs a website to load faster, ask them how quickly (under two seconds, for example). The more granular a metric is, the simpler it is to succeed. Vague specifications only lead to confusion and irritation among all involved.

4. See Training as a Worthwhile Investment — Not a Sunk Cost

A successful company understands the value of investing in its employees. You may need to invest in additional training if you're looking to change the way your company approaches the development cycle.

While training will increase initial costs of preparation, taking preventive action to reduce employee hours on a specific project will result in faster completion times and more profitable projects.

Technical Preparations: Embracing New Technology Is Essential

Adopting the DevOps and CI/CD approaches is about more than just having the right mindset. While the behavioural side is essential, you also need access to the right technology and hard skills.

1. Sustainable Growth Requires a Strong Foundation to Build From

Cloud-based preparations are essential for success. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most accessible platform out there for non-technical businesses. It is more so than competing cloud providers, provides easy-access power user settings right away, and you can build any infrastructure with it.

One can view AWS as a giant, powerful lego set with which businesses can build and accomplish just about anything.

2. Minimize Risk With Version Control

Another technical preparation that cannot be understated is source/version control in shared repositories. The ability to save work, rollback changes, and access archived code is paramount when programming features. You never know when a snippet you archived six months ago is relevant to a new project!

GitFlow, a Git branching model, is excellent for projects with firm deadlines.

Interactions between branches can be programmed, making collaboration using source control easier for project managers and developers. Version control options are self-managed Git repositories, and third-party hosted Git repositories for example on GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket.

3. Integrate Agile Practices

Agile development compliments GitFlow, allowing each developer to push their commits to a project when ready.

Code-reviews, one of the Agile "ceremonies", can be event-driven or time-driven, depending on the company's needs and development team. The product owner's user stories form a framework for planning features and their development in a transparent and highly collaborative way. The scrum master leads daily standup meetings. Learn about the Agile Manifesto.

Automated tests like unit tests, performance tests, security tests, and integration tests in test-driven development are essential for developers. They can run when code is pushed to source control and processed in AWS CodeBuild. CodeBuild allows you to prepare and package code for deployment to staging and production environments.

The Value of DevOps Practices and the Software Development Lifecycle

DevOps is a multi-faceted process, featuring many people and many teams. However, if you own a small business or are an entrepreneur, you can automate this teamwork with AWS CodePipeline. The roles you perform will determine the structure of your DevOps process.

The emphasis and length of time spent on various DevOps stages will depend on the role.

Developers will spend more time on the Code, Build, and Test phases. Systems administrators and information technologists will devote more time to the Deploy, Operate, and Monitor phases. Managers will spend more time on the Plan and Release stages.

While the software development lifecycle does not change, it is modifiable based on managing the project. The "old" method of development is the Waterfall method. While more senior team members may prefer this method, it is outdated in the industry.

Agile, Scrum and Lean methodologies are "in," and much more popular, as CI/CD is much more pairable with these new managerial frameworks.

Why You Should Use CI/CD Tools

Many CI/CD tools exist to increase your efficiency to transition development to the cloud.

These tools either assist with the completion of DevOps stages or automate it for you. With these and other third-party tools, you can save time and money by automating processes that your employees generally perform in-house.

AWS CodePipeline encapsulates several separate tools:

  • CodeCommit: Automates source control for easier team collaboration.
  • CodeBuild: Uses scalability to build and test code and prepare code for deployment.
  • CodeDeploy: Deploys code to automated AWS servers, or your in-house ones.

You can use tools beyond those provided by AWS, for even greater customization and optimized automation. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Jenkins: Provides automated services for CI/CD software delivery.
  • CircleCI: Provides cloud-based and in-house automated deployment services.
  • GitHub Actions: Automates CI/CD for testing and deployment.
  • BitBucket Pipelines: Automates CI/CD for testing and deployment.

Businesses That Benefit From CI/CD and DevOps the Most

We recently published some of our thoughts on How DevOps CI/CD Can Benefit Teams of All Sizes.

Larger development and operations teams often already use CI/CD and DevOps to push code. Entrepreneurs, and smaller teams, are more likely not to, but they should. Automation streamlines work processes, which is a huge benefit for smaller companies.

You need a CI/CD continuous delivery pipeline that makes your team and product owner's life easier and frees-up time for you to invest in other business operations and requirements.

Preparing to transition your development methodologies to DevOps will take time and lots of effort if you do it yourself without a knowledgeable, informed consultant. We can help.

Pilotcore assists companies with automating DevOps and development tasks and migrations, providing services like AWS cloud architecture design, infrastructure as code and configuration management, DevOps consulting, and cloud migration.

Are you interested in starting your transition to DevOps and CI/CD? Contact us today to get started!